April 6, 2018 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

Republicans Aren’t the Only Ones Seething with Resentment

Republicans still insist Democrats hate America, even as a Republican president invites a foreign enemy to the White House.

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The conventional wisdom among Democrats is that white racial resentment powered Donald Trump to victory. But not enough is said about another kind of resentment, one that has been building up over the last year: resentment among Democrats for years of having been told their patriotism doesn’t count. Republicans still insist Democrats hate America, even as the president invites a foreign enemy to tea.

The story of the midterm election is dominated so far by reporting on the women’s march, the #MeToo movement and most recently the Parkland teens who are inspiring greater demands for action on gun violence. That is as it should be. These, I believe, are the prevailing forces that will determine the outcome in November.

But there’s room to discuss the fact that Republicans have since at least 2001 hammered Democrats with propaganda that said they are tantamount to resident aliens, that Democrats don’t represent the values of real red-blooded Americans, that they do in fact hate this country. With the president inviting Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin to the White House, there’s a rare opportunity for revenge.

This is not merely a Donald Trump phenomenon. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the GOP under President George W. Bush and chief strategist Karl Rove cemented successfully in a majority of Americans’ minds that opposition to the Iraq War was tantamount to opposition to the American creed.

This lay the groundwork for any attack to have the ring of truth to it. By the time of the 2004 primaries, the Republicans, in TV ads paid for by the Club for Growth, attacked Howard Dean’s candidacy, telling him to take his “tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving left-wing freak show” back to Vermont.

So powerful was this propaganda that even a Democrat with a bona fide war record, by some accounts a war hero, could not withstand the onslaught. US Sen. John Kerry really had seen combat as a Navy officer, really had been wounded, really had saved other sailors’ lives, really had been decorated for courage and valor, as compared to Bush, who served stateside. Kerry lost the presidential election, in part because the nation was at war, but also because the Republicans’ sabotaged his credibility and convinced a majority of voters that his greatest asset was a liability.

But that was nothing compared to what they did to Barack Obama. Almost from the minute he was elected, partisans chipped away at the meaning and legitimacy of his historic victory, so much so that by the time he left office, most of the Republican Party came to believe, and still believes, that Obama is not a US citizen but instead an alien insurgent bent on turning America into a Kenyan communist caliphate.

Liberals could only laugh then but stopped after the greatest beneficiary of years of GOP propaganda, Donald Trump, became the president. And now that it appears that President Trump has came to power with the help of actual foreign agents whose mission is to erode our liberties and democratic institutions, the fact that liberals laughed at Republican partisans at the time seems like the height of arrogance.

But from arrogance can come sobriety and from sobriety can come a taste for vengeance. The Republicans now turn away as the president defers to the interests of a foreign leader who orchestrated information warfare against the US. And they are doing what they can to ignore or undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. Meanwhile, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson says the Democrats do nothing about illegal immigration, because they hate America.

I don’t want to make too much out of this. As I said, I think #MeToo and other movements are prevailing forces this year. But I can’t help thinking that a wild card in this year’s midterms will be turnout from Democrats sick and tired of being held to the GOP’s double standards, including the one about who counts as a real American. Republicans aren’t the only ones seething with resentment.

Other stories

  1. Trump is ramping up what is now clearly a trade war with China. Last night, the administration announced an additional $100 billion in tariffs. China responded by this morning, saying it would use every tool it can to fight back.

  2. A trade war with China is going to hurt, a lot, especially in Trump country, where soybean and pig farmers will feel the most pain. Will losing millions in profits as well as thousands of jobs make voters reconsider? Maybe, but don’t count on it.

  3. Tariffs are going to hurt US manufacturers, too, says Bloomberg. So much so that it would be cheaper to give back all the corporate tax cuts they got from the GOP.

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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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